Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Selhurst Experiment - A cost worth paying

Is it really only 25 years?  It feels like a life time, ok for some of the addicted 25 years is more than a lifetime.

Ironically, 25 years on and stoke has a different significance to me, as I took my youngest to Uni there last weekend, totally oblivious to the historical significance of the club, but berating the traffic as West Ham were playing at the Britannia.

Unlike most if not all other Addick fans, the closure of the Valley was a positive for me (quick duck as things are thrown at me), but before I am too berated let me explain. 

I switched as I explained elsewhere on this blog from armchair supporting Chelsea to actively watching Charlton in 1969 and was a fairly regular attendee until around 1979, except the times when I got a really poor school report, when my mum banned me from going.  Around this time I stopped going, partly due to marriage in ’80 and moving away.  I basically missed the Elliot and Walsh years and, to be honest, the we’re going into admin years.

In ’82 I moved to Hull, and was there till just after the valley closure, popping down to see my parents in Forest Hill and In Laws in Catford, once  a month. 

Then it happened, salvation from parents, I could leave my wife with my parents or hers.  The idea of Charlton sharing a ground was, to coin a phrase, a ground breaking event in English football, seen as the future of English football, soon Man U would share with Man City, Liverpool with Everton, Arsenal with Spurs, West Ham with Orient and Millwall ……. Ok no one wants to share with Millwall.  And 25 years later the number of sharing clubs, moving on from our and Palaces experiment is  ….. none!!!  OK Palace went on to fleece Wimbledon and we went on to play at Upton Park.

To me before it happened sharing had a bit of romance and I was determined to be there for the first ever ground sharing game in England and so my wife and I travelled 5 hours down from Beverly, North Humberside to SE23, I dropped her off and went to see Charlton v Sunderland and we won 2-1.  I cannot remember who scored for us, but I remember that Sunderlands scorer was the ex Ipswich player who was the ugliest man in football.  For those of you reading of my age and beyond, you’ll remember that Bobby Robson as manager of Ipswich had a team of really ugly players, there has probably not been an uglier team in English football, you could understand how they almost won the league, because they were never afraid to get their head in there where the boots were flying.
Eric Gates one of Bobby Robsons Ugly's and the first scorer against Charlton at Selhurst

This was my South London romantic period as a couple of seasons later, I was happy that we shared the top division with Palace, Millwall and Wimbledon.

Any way, back to why I was happy we were at selhurst, the bare facts are, it got me back into watching live football and after that game against Sunderland, I got the Charlton bug and following Charlton has become an obsession.

Of course the Selhurst experience was never going to work, geographically it was wrong as transport links were poor from Charltons catchment area and of course sharing with palace was like being invited in to your neighbours house who then picks your pocket, whilst ripping you off for rent.  Palace fans today see themselves as our saviours, but that is a long way from the real story.  Fry and Noades had grand designs to amalgamate the two clubs, as Maxwell had designs on Thames Valley Rovers, from Oxford and Reading, in more reality this would have seen the end of Charlton. 

25 years ago, an experiment in football started, strangely enough whilst it alienated a huge number of Charlton fans for me it was a success, because it brought me back into the fold.  Some may say that it was too big a cost, but you won’t hear that from me, especially as it meant I did not have to spend Saturday afternoons with the family!!!!!


Ketts said...

Interesting slant on events KK. The two Marks, Reid 9with a penalty) and Stuart scoredfor Charlton. Sunderland's 'Mr Ugly' was Eric Gates.

ChicagoAddick said...

Interesting reading Kap. I lived in Catford in those days and as the crow flies our house was equidistant from The Valley and Selhurst.

It took twice as long to get to though.

I hated our time at Selhurst but I fondly remember the tribal impact it had on us supporters. The move certainly galvanised the support and the team and looking back it was a real purple patch in our history.

But agter relegation, we were on a fast downward curve and we would have folded if we'd have stayed.